Turning to a unique concept of yours, could you explain Oracle Model ‘Follow the Sun’ for software development?
Our home base is in the United States and we have a large development base in India. And coincidently, Indian and US time zones are about 12 hours apart. Indian software development team, our integral part of global team is not just handling specific task but they are active partners of the team. And given the nature of development process; work that is started in the US in the morning, finishes by the evening. This work then can be handed over to the Indian team that comes in. Thus, it is sort of relay kind of work.
India is the largest R&D destination besides the US for Oracle. Can you give us more information on this?
Well, as mentioned earlier, we are using the model ‘Follow the Sun’. As India is geographically positioned to develop, and this of course is the advantage added to availability of trained and skilled manpower. Further, it is the second largest location of manpower, for the company is the home base in the US. Most recently, if you add our subsidiaries and all our bases in India, it is 20,000 people now, which is most significant portion of the total head counts of the company. And almost all lines of businesses are represented here. Moreover, everybody knows that Oracle has brought, discovered India, so to speak, as a development center long before it became fashionable to do so. Thus, we started our first development center in India in 1994, and we would be slowly increasing the number as well, marking a significant presence for us today.
On Customer Relation Management (CSR) front, how is Oracle discharging its corporate responsibilities?
Our main medium for discharging our CSR responsibilities is ‘Oracle Foundation,’ whose charter is entirely to spread the use of technical education and most of our synergies are routed through that and helps multiple program. Thus, our relationship with children starts from middle school and continues till University. So in middle school level, we have a product called ‘Think.Com’, which is basically a collaboration tool; an online collaboration tool. It does not seek to teach a child any thing specific apart from part of technology or part of collaboration or co-operation in voicing together. This is because we believe that apart from technical skill, which we often may be well equipped with, the strong element of future success is; the ability and willingness to collaborate; and to understand how collaboration can generate result that are better. Therefore, this program has been highly successful since we started. It works very well.
We are deploying it through school system network rather than going one by one, because we can teach the teachers; train the trainers; and they can further train others and so on and so forth. So, we think what we needed was largest school system in the country - The Kendriya Vidyalay School system, which has over thousand schools, and is geographically spread all over the country; has good socio economic mix in its students; and current number of students is well over 300,000, as well. It worked well, and so we are taking it to other school systems also; talking to Delhi Public School society and Navoday School too.
Then, we have ‘Oracle Academy’ targeted at class XI, XII and Polytechnic students. This is where for the first time actually, we teach students; one to one skills as well as specific database skills that they can then leverage in their both, college education and later on, in their work space. One topic spoken a lot about in the country is the so called ‘Skill Gap’. We are producing a lot of graduates but those who do not have skills relevant or in line of the market needs. So at Oracle, we work for the University authorities and this led to another program called the ‘Oracle Education,’ an initiative targeted for engineering colleges. Through these programs, we actually work with institutions to change and amend the curriculum to the one that reflects current needs of the job market. Thereafter, we donate our software in kind, for free use. We then, train the teachers again such that the students keep acquiring skills relevant to the job market today.
We are thus following this pattern with various networks of colleges and school. We are working with 100 polytechnic in Karnataka through an institution called BIT which has a record for IT education and services in Karnataka. We believe, one need not get a four or five-year engineering degree to do a lot of work in IT business, and therefore polytechnics are not to be neglected community within educational strata. We work with our Knowledge Kendras in Andhra Pradesh, within engineering schools/colleges like IITs and others in Karnataka and Andhra, in a big way.
That’s just a great responsibility you are discharging!
Well, it is sort of, I think, we have lightened self interest, because Indian Engineers have an impact all over the world today. And so it is important that they enter the job markets with skill to make themselves productive employees for a bright future.
In application software world, the year 2007 will be a period of continued radical change, with major changes expected to accelerate the progress of SMBs and SMEs. What would be Oracle’s strategy to address this issue?
We started offering Customer Relationship Management on Demand (CRM-On Demand), which is a subscriber service. To start with, we offered it to Indian Businesses ideally suited for medium size – typically small or medium business that are not willing or able to invest in a typical deployment. It is just the beginning, and we are exploring other model where small medium companies are able to use the software as on Demand Service rather than their traditional model where actually they buy, install and use it on their own. So, this typical trend is definitely coming. It is question of timing you know, and in theory, it makes a lot of sense as it is a question of getting customer acceptance that we are looking forward to.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.